U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says the issue of child labor may be entrenched, but it is also solvable. Clinton made an appeal ahead of World Day Against Child Labor, which will be observed worldwide this Saturday.
The United Nation's International Labor Office (ILO) says 215 million children in the world are child laborers, and it warns that efforts to eliminate the worst forms of child labor are slowing down.
Clinton says people throughout the world must band together to help such children. "Ending labor exploitation is our shared responsibility because every child born into this world deserves the opportunity to achieve his or her God-given potential," she said.
Clinton's videotaped remarks were presented at a conference on child labor in Washington Tuesday.
The secretary of state says the U.S. was one of the first countries to ratify the International Labor Organization's convention on the Worst Forms of Child Labor ten years ago. "...and we remain committed to ending child exploitation - including child soldiering, child trafficking, and any work that harms the health, safety, or morals of children," she said.
Clinton says the goal is to provide families with meaningful alternatives and to address the root causes of child labor. "... including inequality, inadequate access to education, a lack of decent work for parents, poor enforcement of labor laws - all of which perpetuate the cycle of poverty," she said.
An International Labor Office report released last month estimates child labor fell three percent from 2004 to 2008, but it also says that the decline was uneven.
Child labor among girls declined by 15 percent, while it increased among boys by about seven-percent globally. And, while the number of child laborers ages 5 to 14 decreased, the figure increased among young people ages 15 to 17.
World Day Against Child Labor will be observed June 12. The ILO says events include a mini-marathon in Angkor Wat, Cambodia; numerous campaigns in rural Chinese villages; a gathering at the Obelisk in Buenos Aires, Argentina; as well as exhibitions in Karachi and Lahore, Pakistan, among other activities worldwide.
The International Labor Office is the permanent secretariat of the United Nation's International Labor Organization. About 1,900 officials representing more than 110 nationalities work in the Office's Geneva headquarters and in 40 field offices around the world.